Raw nuts are nutritional powerhouses, packed with protein, healthy fats, fibre and essential minerals like magnesium, zinc, phosphate and calcium. However, they also contain natural chemicals like phytates and enzyme inhibitors that can reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly. Eating large amounts of raw nuts can, for some, put extra pressure on their digestive system resulting in uncomfortable digestive symptoms like bloating, cramping, heaviness and nausea. The solution? Activate them!
Activated nuts are simply nuts that have been soaked in water for 12-24 hours and then slowly dried again so they are crisp. The soaking serves to stimulate the early germination and sprouting process within the nut (or seed, legume or grain) which can make them gentler on the digestive system. Soaking also reduces the phytates, thereby increasing the bioavailability of the nutrients within the nuts. If you cook legumes, like lentils or kidney beans at home (rather than just opening a tin), you’ll be familiar with the process of first soaking them until they soften before cooking them in order to make them more digestible.
Is it necessary to activate your nuts? Opinion is divided. Phytates have some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and may help with lowering blood glucose levels, so it’s too simplistic to say that phytates are simply bad for you. Like many aspects of nutrition, it comes down to an individual’s needs. If you find you do get unwanted digestive symptoms after eating nuts, then you may want to try activating them first and see if it makes them easier for you to digest.
How to activate nuts at home
Leave the nuts to soak for around 7-12 hours (almonds will need longer, between 12-14 hours). Strain the nuts, place them on a baking tray and place them in a low heat oven between 50oC to 65oC or use a food dehydrator (to make sure you preserve the nuts’ essential fats and nutrients) for around 12-24 hours. Make sure the nuts are totally dry before you remove them from the oven, otherwise they can go mouldy. When they’re done, store them in the fridge in an airtight container. One thing is for sure, activated nuts, with their extra crunch, are a delight to eat.